Well, first thing’s first. Have we ever really “arrived”? I have been at it for more than a decade. I can make a case for some measure of success, but I can say for sure that I haven’t “arrived” at anything but a little more freedom, a better work ethic, and better vision. And that’s keeping me going.
Second thing. This stuff of course all matters deeply–the talent, the gigs, the hard work – I’ve talked about those before as “get in the door” sorts of qualities. But you know what else matters that’s rarely discussed? You’ve gotta be in the game–not just AT the game, but IN the game. For years.
It’s my personal experience and the experience of many “successful” artists I know that nothing of real substance ever happens fast enough. We’re impatient bastards, all of us. A career is not made from one picture or one campaign, or even three or five. It’s not your first exhibition that gets you the bump you want to get, it’s your 10th or your 100th.
I can’t say for sure what “having arrived” is, but I know that part of it is staying on the long-ass curvy road for a good long while. Better love what you’re doing.